Look: I am eager to learn stuff I don't know--which requires actively courting and posting smart disagreement.

But as you will understand, I don't like to post things that mischaracterize and are aimed to mislead.

-- Brad Delong

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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Some Thoughts on Fascism

Over at G&T, Ed said:

I try not to think about 2002 and 2003. America was a truly awful thing to see while it was pregaming the Iraq War. Watching the American public, desperate as it was to lash out incoherently in post-9/11 rage, swallow one tablespoon of horseshit after another as the previous administration engaged in the greatest marketing campaign in history was not pleasant. It was a real reminder – not a Teabagger's "Obama = Hitler" reminder – of how thin the line between American-style democracy and fascism really is.

In comments, bb asked:

I know Dave likes to do the Top 10 thing, but owing to the fact that we have a wide spectrum of Leftist thought here, can a few of y'all give a Top 5 things that we should do/be that would move us a few notches away from "fascism" (We have had discussions before on exactly what is meant by that term – so a working definition from you might be attached)

 ladiesbane responded

And when we discuss Democracy versus Facism, I agree that we should define our terms. I can easily see a Democratically elected leader who espouses a Facistic philosophy: authoritarian control of social behavior rather than liberty of person; ultra-nationalism rather than patriotism; State attitude of division rather than unity, discriminating against a designated set of Other among the populace; definition of dissent as treason; utter negation of anything that questions authority; and so forth. Economic principles and class divisions are no longer relevant to a definition of Fascism — Classism is a separate problem. But if we have (crypto-)Fascists in office, we elected them, right?

My response:

@ bb

OK. I'll take the bait. But first, I'll remind you that there is essentially NO leftist thought in the U.S. these days. For decades, the political debate has been between the right and the far right. Only thus can a centrist conservative like B. Hoover Obama be described as some sort of raving leftist commie socialist.

It sometimes amuses me to see the world in cartoon images. As such, Fascism is the devil sitting on democracies right shoulder, always tempting her down the road to serfdom. Imagine a demonic Donald Duck perched on the statue of Liberty.

Fascism is fundamentally control of the government by business interests – essentially the inverse of socialism – along with control of people's minds by a combination of religious and patriotic – no, make that NATIONALISTIC – jingoistic drum beating. Ladiesbane, above, has a pretty good sad litany of characteristics.

Since corporations have no soul, they are totally immune to any feelings of conscience or sympathy as the population becomes impoverished, and the corporate overlords grow ever richer. Since government is the only entity large and powerful enough to provide a counterbalance to big business, when business controls government, the people get {expletive deleted} hard.

The top five things to move away from fascism, obviously have to do with getting business out of government, and un-brainwashing the population. (as they occur to me – not rank ordered)

a) Reverse the appalling Citizens United decision: corporations – and most especially trans-nationals who are loyal to nobody – are not people, and we give them quasi-human rights at our peril.

b) Real election reform. I don't have a formula, but multi-million dollar elections are a distortion of democracy that invites corporate control.

c) The right almost exclusively owns the airwaves. There are enormous stretches of countryside where the only a.m. talk you can get is Rush, Sean, and the idiot Beck. Somehow restore parity in the exposure to ideas.

d) Education: Americans are staggeringly ignorant of history, and knowledge of how government works, and methods of rational discourse and critical thinking. Fascists, conservatives, and religionists hate education. They want a population trained only well enough to operate machinery and follow orders – not well enough to engage in free thought.

e) Big business loves monopolies and hates free enterprise. Bring back real entrepreneurial capitalism. This means prohibiting mergers that eliminate competition, and breaking up any too-big-too-fail organization.

And, at no extra charge:

f) Instituting tax policies that are genuinely progressive and loophole resistant to reverse and impede the flow of wealth into the hands of the mega-rich.

Then I added:

I got it from Mussolini himself:

Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.
-  Benito Mussolini
Fascism should rightly be called Corporatism, as it is the merger of corporate and government power.
- Benito Mussolini
Fascism, the more it considers and observes the future and the development of humanity, quite apart from political considerations of the moment, believes neither in the possibility nor the utility of perpetual peace.
- Benito Mussolini

This highlights the other characteristic of fascism – that it degenerates nationalism into an excessively warlike stance. Comparing W to fascists was not so over-the-top as his supporters would have the rest of us believe. It's no coincidence that his grandfather made a fortune bankrolling the Nazis.

And BTW – American industrialists in the 30's were in LOVE with the Nazis, and fervently hoped for an American version of fascism.

And now they're getting it.

Characteristics of fascism can be found here and here.

Of course, none of my proscriptive solutions is even remotely possible.  We're screwed.


Suzan said...


You noticed!

Love ya,


We're screwed.

Kulkuri said...

"swallow one tablespoon of horseshit after another as the previous administration engaged in the greatest marketing campaign in history was not pleasant."

I beg to differ, the dosage was much, much larger than that!! Otherwise, good post.